Noelle Swan

Noam Chomsky Speaks Out About Occupy Movement, Corporations and US Policies in an Exclusive Interview with New England Post

Noelle Swan
New England Post
October 26, 2011

The renowned political activist, theorist, philosopher, and MIT linguistic professor, Noam Chomsky visited Occupy Boston camp for the first time last weekend. A few days later, he elaborated on the themes raised during his talk with protesters in a telephone interview.

Many of the issues highlighted by Occupy Boston picketers echo problems that Chomsky has been trying to highlight for years. Issues like increasing taxes on the wealthy and restricting the rights of corporations.

“We have to decide what a person means,” Chomsky told New England Post. “I normally take it to mean creatures of flesh and blood. The courts have decided otherwise. They include corporations and exclude undocumented aliens from the category of persons.”

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations deserve the right to free speech and the freedom to contribute unlimited amounts of money to political organizations. The decision sparked much discussion online and among news commentators last year. It seems that the Occupy Movement may have reignited the conversation. Outlets ranging from NPR to Stephen Colbert have devoted airtime to exploring so-called “corporate personhood.”

Chomsky said that there is another half of the equation to “corporate personhood” that does not get enough attention. Not only have the courts expanded the definition of person to include corporations, but he pointed out, they have restricted the definition to exclude undocumented immigrants.

He also charges that United States foreign policy directly influences the number of undocumented immigrants crossing the border. “When NAFTA was passed in 1994, Clinton began militarizing the border because it was recognized that the impact of NAFTA would be to undercut Mexican agriculture,” he said.

“American businesses have to be treated like a Mexican business, but a Mexican human being who comes to New York can’t expect to be treated like a U.S. citizen,” he added.

“In Massachusetts, there are lots of Mayans from Guatemala fleeing virtual genocide in the 1980s by a regime with U.S. support,” Chomsky said.

Chomsky further credited American drug policy for contributing to instability in Mexico, Central, and South America, which in turn increases the flow of people immigrating to the United States illegally.

“The drug cartels are growing and developing because of the demand for [drugs] in the U.S. and the criminalization of drugs that are U.S. policies. The guns for the cartel for the criminal gangs in Mexico are coming from places like Arizona and Texas where you can walk in to a store, buy an assault rifle and cross into Mexico,” Chomsky said.

After a moment of thought, he added, “Actually the whole drug policy should be largely rethought, I think. It has a tremendous effect on populations. In much of Latin America, it led to the growth of violent criminal cartels, counter insurgency programs. In the US, it has led to a very sharp rise in incarceration way beyond other countries.”

“American policy is formulated in such a way as to virtually guarantee a flow of refugees,” he said.

Chomsky argued that none of these policies benefit Americans.

Corporate personhood, he said, places an inordinate amount of political and economic power in the hands of corporations.

“NAFTA harmed working people in the U.S. and Canada as well,” he said citing the influx of cheap labor flooding the job market.

He blamed U.S. drug policies for a sharp rise in incarceration that he said targets blacks and Hispanics.

“These things need to be brought to the public forcibly,” he said. The Occupy Movement may be the necessary mechanism to do just that.


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